Friday, June 1, 2007

Commission Voting Sessions

Commissioner Kathy Hoard is entirely correct in thinking that the limitation on public comment at commission voting sessions, a procedural change slated to go into effect next month, is a bad idea.

She is also correct in noting that any attempts to limit the duration of commission voting sessions would be better directed at those inside the rail, rather than at we uppity citizens foolishly seeking to influence our elected representatives on important issues of the day.

At present, each commissioner is entitled to 15 minutes on each agenda item (3 periods of 5 minutes each). Contrast that with the six minutes members of the public gets to discuss the consent agenda (3 minutes) and old and new business (3 minutes), regardless of how many agenda items either section may encompass. While it is true that the public may speak at meetings other than the voting session, the same is true of commissioners.

The more important problem, however, has to do with the political philosophy employed by the commission. The purpose of the Unified Government’s legislative body is to set policy for the county in broad terms, not to micromanage the properties, business, and lives of the county’s citizens. I think that as the commission has become more “progressive,” it has also become more interventionist, more intrusive, and more authoritarian. Thus, unsurprisingly, citizens have a vested interest in keeping close tabs on, and making their views known to, the commission.

Finally, I find that the most vexing aspect of the proposed change concerning public comment is its timing. The mayor and six of the ten commissioners were elected within the last few months, all of whom were perfectly aware of the existing procedures for taking public comment when they ran for office. I recall none of them campaigned on a platform of limiting public input at voting sessions, until they were safely ensconced in office, that is.

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1 comment:

Winfield J. Abbe said...

Thank you James Garland for this new forum and another well written statement. Again citizens have abdicated to elected non representatives to make the rules and it is no surprize that they make the rules in their favor for maximum public relations and propaganda benefit to them, while shafting the lowly citizen. Citizens must demand that they be permitted the opportunity to rebut and dispute each and every statement made by commissioners at the same forum in the same television program. The argument will be advanced that the program is already too long. So a compromise would be to permit citizens to have statements taped outside of the program or outside in the hall and placed in the record so they would be viewed with the same program. As it is, citizens are placed in the weak position of having to dispute nonsense by commissioners in another forum days or weeks later so others viewing tapes of the meeting don't get to view them. This biased procedure in favor of their selfish interests must be stopped.